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The Good, Bad and Ugly Report: Louisville

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Doc is out of town this weekend and unable to view the game until later this evening via DVR so I will be filling in for him on the GBU Report to spare him the torture of having to actually watch the game.

It was an ugly game. As I said in the postgame wrap it was frustrating and inexplicable on so many levels and both sides of the ball. For much of the game it seemed like we would be short of "good" to talk about here and spend most of the post talking "bad and ugly." However there were a few players who showed up on Saturday and their play was just enough to get UNC by. Without further ado here is you Doc-less GBU report.

Good

Erik Highsmith: Not such much for the stats(59 yards on four catches) but for his effort. When Highsmith caught the football he tried to make things happen. Highsmith also had a nice gain on an end around erased by holding to go with his four catches. More importantly, Highsmith is emerging as a legitimate receiving threat opposite Dwight Jones opposing teams must account for leaving Jones more room to work. Speaking of Mr. Jones...

Dwight Jones: Another week, another game in the 100-yard range with a TD and some ridiculous play. Jones had been quiet most of the game until the fourth quarter when Bryn Renner tossed up a wobbly pass that was short. Jones came back, caught the ball outside the end zone then fought two Cardinals off to get the score. Jones continues to make plays when UNC needs them just as you would expect from an NFL prospect.

Gio Bernard: Bernard registered his fourth straight 100-yard game hitting his per game average with 109 yards. It was not nearly as efficient from a production standpoint but still a solid 4.4 yards per attempt. Bernard's eighth TD of the season exceeds Johnny White's TD total last season.

Sylvester Williams: The JUCO transfer defensive tackle was highly praised throughout the spring and summer. Today he showed why with three tackles for a loss and a sack. Williams was wreaking havoc all day long, even when UNC only rushed three.

Bad

Bryn Renner: Renner's line of 12-18, 178 yards and 1 TD is not necessarily bad but it was clear early on the redshirt sophomore was simply off. Renner forgot some of the lessons from last week failing to get rid of the ball in a timely manner. Some of the passes were inaccurate and even the TD pass to Jones was wobbly and well short to the point Jones had to come back to it. Off days happen and this was one for Renner.

Punting: This is one part Thomas Hibbard and one part execution. Hibbard had a rough time early in the game getting off a couple of wobbly punts, one of which only went for 27 yards. As the game progressed, Hibbard improved enough to end up with an average of 40.8 yards per punt. The execution otherwise leaves a little to be desired. Hibbard, who had a punt blocked versus Georgia Tech, is often under pressure when getting the kick off. Some of the poorly punted balls are a result of Hibbard being forced to rush because pressure is coming.

End of game defense: We have seen this before and it reared its head again today. UNC allowed Louisville to march down field in two minutes and score using a no-huddle offense. For whatever reason and perhaps this reflects on Everett Withers, UNC tends to let the foot off the throat playing defense late in the game. Had this game been closer, this would have been a flashback to the 2008 Virginia game.

Ugly

Offensive line: A staple of the bad and ugly sections of these reports. Louisville collected eight tackles for loss and four sacks against Renner. Two of those game when a UL defender got into the backfield completely unchecked. Couple this with the continual lack run blocking between the tackles and some ill timed holding penalties, the question of when the highly touted offensive line UNC supposedly has plans to show up remains.

Third Down Defense: Louisville converted  7-15 on 3rd down which comes to almost 50%. The result was a Tar Heel defense who could not get off the field at times.

The Entire First Half: Call it sleepwalking, a hangover, whatever. The Heels could do very little right in the first half and ended it scoreless.

Kenan Stadium Crowd: Or the lack thereof. While this was a non-conference game versus Louisville, the weather was awesome in the low 70s and there was no excuse for the number of empty seats in Kenan Stadium today. The Heels are not a perfect team but have one of the more productive trio of offense weapons in the conference with Renner, Jones and Bernard. Also, this is team winning games so it not like people are being asked to watch a bad football team.  Nevertheless there were huge swaths of open seats and the Blue Zone remains sparsely occupied. For all the whining that the administration might de-emphasize football, the only people de-emphasizing football right now is the fan base. Those who have tickets and are choosing not to show up whether out of some stupid boycott or apathy are doing more damage to the program than anything the administration has done so far.

UNC is 5-1 and despite the poor play today, still has a good shot at nine wins. The first step towards that starts next week at home versus Miami. Hopefully the both the team and the fans will show up at kickoff.